Planning or Reacting?
There are two ways to approach your photography. You can pick a location, scout it, and make plans to go back and photograph during the ideal conditions that you have envisioned or you can just grab your camera and go out for a walk and see what tickles your fancy. For me, while I do plan some of my shoots, I often just pick a place and go out with my camera and just react to the nature that is surrounding me. A couple reasons this woks for me is that for one the experience of being out in nature is half the enjoyment (if not more!), so I usually find myself exploring for several hours. Reason number two is my family. I can't always plan to go out and photograph somewhere (unless it's local), especially on a whim because the conditions are ideal. I am often needed at home or busy with the kids. As the kids get older I may be able to do more of the "planned" type of shooting, but for now I do really enjoy those photo walks I take, and how frequently I can do those. Do you prefer one method over the other, or maybe you do a mix of both as well?
I came across this fall tree reflection lit up by morning sun while out exploring and new I had to capture it. I had to climb up onto the roof of my car to get a good angle.
Weather not cooperating. Maybe you feel it's to gloomy out for photography but you are itching to get out and photograph something. When this happens I tend to fall back on macro or abstract images. You can find these subjects pretty much anywhere and you can shoot them in just about any light. If it's to sunny and your subject is small enough just use a small diffuser to block the unwanted light. Another bonus, you can travel light, just one camera and one lens. I would go with a normal-short telephoto focal length. Sometimes it's fun to limit yourself and see what creative images you can come up with! The image below was created with a slow shutter speed and panning the camera along the edge of a beach.
Between my shoulder/neck and headache pain that I get when carrying to much in my pack and just wanting to enjoy the moment, I have been learning to carry as little camera gear as possible. I used to feel I needed every focal length possible in fear that I may miss a shot, but I have learned that is not necessary. I often enjoy the freedom of carrying only a couple lenses/focal lengths, and it often helps me be more creative. Sometimes if I know I will be going on a long hike I will bring just one focal length, or my crop sensor mirrorless to keep things light. There have been a couple times I wished I had brought another lens, but not often, and I usually find a way to get the shot. Try to limit yourself, it can be very rewarding.
Moods for Flora
Often when I am photographing and editing images of flowers I let the subject itself along with the atmosphere dictate how I will photograph and edit the final image. An example would be if I am photographing a happy flower in bright dreamy light I will often keep with that look when I photograph it and edit it later. Where as a flower that is perhaps situated in some dark deep shadows I will tend to darken things more and go for a moodier look. Do you have a certain look or style or does it vary based on the subject/mood?
One subject I have been having a lot of fun with lately is capturing abstract images of waterfalls or rapids. A couple bonuses about shooting these is you can do it just about any time of year and it requires minimal gear, therefore I can hike lighter which is always a plus to me. Typically I bring one camera with a telephotos lens and ND filters. I may bring a tripod depending on the location and my goal. You would need a tripod if you are going to include anything in your image that is stationary to ensure it stays sharp with the slow shutter speed you could be using. Often though I won't bother bringing the tripod and just stick to more abstract images to keep things light and free. No two images will look alike which is part of the fun. You can vary your composition and shutter speed to change the outcome of each image. You never know what you will get!
Early Summer Wildlife
Do you enjoy viewing or photographing wildlife? It can be a good way to get out and enjoy nature during this difficult time we are experiencing. Below are a few wildlife subjects to look for during late spring/early summer.
First half of May- Warblers in their full breeding plumage. Also look for indigo bunting, scarlet tanager or rose-breasted grosbeak. Start searching prairies for upland sandpipers, marbled godwits, bobolinks along with butterflies and wildflowers. Trumpeter swans will be nesting in marshes of central and northern Minnesota, with their young hatching by mid-June (please keep a respectable distance).
June- In northern Minnesota watch for ruffed grouse and spring songbirds. Shallow prairie marshes may have waterfowl and waterbirds. Watch for grebes, coots, ducks, swans, blackbirds, wrens, rails, minks, and otter.
Use binoculars and a telephotos lens, keep your distance and be respectful. If you notice the animal is stressed, back off. Especially during nesting season.
Visit your local DNR website for more Information on wildlife near your area.
After being stuck inside most of the winter it can be very exciting to finally get out and enjoy nature again. Since it can take a while before we have any greenery in Minnesota here are a few subjects that I will look out for during those first couple months of spring.
Plants that are just opening up. One of my favorites are ferns. They have this really eye catching curl to them when they first start growing.
Spring migration (see my previous post about spring wildlife for more details)
Unique tree/plant buds
Raging waterfalls/rapids (get closer or zoom in for a more intimate or abstract image)
The days are getting longer and I could not be happier that spring is around the corner. I am looking forward to getting out soon and photographing birds that are returning to the state of Minnesota from their migration south. Below is a list of wildlife to watch for in the next couple months.
March: Canada geese, bald eagles, American kestrels, eastern bluebirds and wood ducks.
Mid-March through mid-April: waterfowl migration and sandhill cranes.
Mid to late April: shorebird migration, watch shallow wetlands for yellowlegs, willets, dunlins and other sandpipers.
Late April: first wave of early migrant songbirds.
Other animals to watch for in the spring would include river otters, and beavers. In Northern Minnesota you may spot moose, fishers and pine martens.
Use binoculars and a telephotos lens, keep your distance and be respectful. If you notice the animal is stressed back off, especially during nesting season.
Behind The Scenes
I try to photograph flowers indoors to get me through the winter. Here is what a typical flower setup looks like. This table is near a patio door that offers plenty of natural light during the midday. How do you stay creative with your camera during the long cold winter months?
Exposing for Snowy Scenes
White snowy scenes can trick your camera into underexposing, resulting in a gray color instead. To make sure your snowy winter scenes look white increase your exposure by 1 or more stops. You can also accomplish this with your smartphone by swiping your finger up (after you pressed on the screen to achieve focus) to increase exposure. Just be sure you are not over exposing to much which would result in a lack of details within those white snowy areas.